At two o'clock in the morning on Friday 12th October 1537, St Edward's Day, Jane Seymour finally gave birth to the future King Edward VI after a long and tiring thirty-hour labour. Henry VIII had a legitimate son and heir at long last!
Chronicler Charles Wriothesley recorded the good news and the subsequent celebrations:
"And the morrowe after, being Fridaie and the eaven of Sainct Edward, a sometime King of Englande, at tow of the clocke in the morninge the Queene [was] delivered of a man chielde at Hampton Court beside Kingston. And the same daie, at eight of the clocke in the morning, Te Deum was songe in everie parish church throughout London, with all the bells ringing in everie church, and great fiars made in everie streete; and at 9 of the clocke their was assembled at Poules all the orders of friars, monkes, channons, priestes, and clarkes about London, standing all about Paules in rich copes, with the best crosses and candlestickes of everie parrishe church in London; the Bishopp of London, the Bishopp of Chichestre, Deane of Poules, and the Abbott of Westminster being mitred, the said Bishopp and Deane of Paules making a collation to the people at the quire dore of Poules, the French Kinges embassadour being present, the Lord Chauncelor of Englande, the Lord Privie Scale, the Lorde Marques Dorsett, with all the judges and serjeantes of the lawe; the Major of London, with the orderman [aldermen] and sherives, with all the craftes of London, standing in their liveries: and after the said collation Poules quire song an attempne of the Trinitie, with Te Deum, and the 9th responde of the Trinitie, with the colect of the same. Then the Kinges waites and the waites of London plaied with the shalmes; and after that a great peale of gonnes were shott at the Tower of London, all which solempnitie was donne to give laude and prayse to God for joy of our prince.
Also, the same night, at five of the clocke, their was new fiers made in everie streete and lane, people sitting at them banquetting with fruites and wyne, the shalmes and waites playing in Cheepeside, and hogsheaddes of wyne sett in divers places of the Cittie for poore people to drinke as long as they listed; the major and aldermen riding about the cittie thancking the people, and praying them to give laude and praise to God for our prince; also their was shott at the Tower that night above tow thousand gonns, and all the bells ringing in everie parish church till it was tenne at the clocke at night; also the marchantes of the Styliard made great fiers, and brent a hundred staffe torches at their place, and gave a hogeshed of wyne to poore people, and tow barrells of beare also."2
There is no mention of the Queen being ill at this point and it appears that at first she seemed to be recovering well from the long labour. However, by 18th October, she was seriously ill with what's thought to be puerperal (childbed) fever, and by 23rd October she was delirious, and septicaemia had set in. Jane died on the night of the 24th of October.
It was a bitter-sweet time for Henry VIII, he finally had a prince but it was at the cost of his queen.
- Comfortable Consolation for the Birth of Prince Edward, rather than Sorrow for the Death of Queen Jane by Richard Morison (1537) quoted in Edward VI: The Lost King of England, Chris Skidmore (2007), Phoenix, p. 1.
- A chronicle of England during the reigns of the Tudors, from A.D. 1485 to 1559, Volume 1, Charles Wriothesley.